I reviewed the two pack Nonary Games a few months back and loved my time with it. It had a great sense of visual novel mixed in with some truly challenging puzzles and a rather strange, yet compelling storyline. Finally, the PS4 is getting the sequel to Virtue’s Last Reward and 999 after being on the Vita for a year now. Zero Time Dilemma is stated as being the final game in the Zero Escape trilogy, and this time they have decided to change up the narrative a bit. Let’s see how it stacks up.
Well, first off, if anyone reading this review has not played 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward, you really need to play them first before even thinking of starting this game. There are returning characters, call backs, and much more in Dilemma that will go over anyone’s head that never played the first two games. Now that you’re back from getting the true ending to those two games, let’s continue.
Platforms: PS4, PC, Vita
Price I’d pay: $$39.99
The big change in Dilemma is the way the story is conveyed. It is now a bit more cinematic in the sense that not only are things voice acted, they are also done in animated cut scenes. So instead of a picture of a character with dialog shown, it is now voiced and done through 3D models as they walk around. It’s really like playing a Telltale game. Now, while this change is welcome for me, I will admit that the animations and many of the faces the characters make are stiff and unusual looking in some aspects. It threw me off a few times, especially in some dramatic moments.
The real star here is the puzzles. These are not your standard Professor Layton puzzles either. These will require both critical thinking as well as math to complete. If there’s one thing to say about the Zero Escape series it’s the fact that it is the only game series to ever have me actually use a notebook while playing. These puzzles will get the brain working big time.
The main crux of the game is actually the set up itself. Much like the previous games, it has to be played from different perspectives multiple times. Players can easily get endings that result in only partial truths or just unsatisfying endings. In order to get the true ending, players are going to have to meet the requirements. This in and of itself is a puzzle, perhaps the main puzzle of the entire game. Now, Dilemma takes this multi-playthrough formula and multiplies it by three. Since there are three groups of people set in Zero’s Decision Game, players will have to see how things play out depending on the situation, as well as the decision each group makes.
What I really enjoyed was the fact that the game would allow for a tailor-made experience where it would show the decisions I would have to make and would allow me to pick and choose how it plays out. For example, one of the first decisions is the voting of killing off a group. In order for a group to be killed, they need to receive two votes. Since there are three groups, this could easily be avoided by having each group vote for a different group. Now, I see the plan, but do I go along with it? Or do I see what happens when two groups vote for the same group? Or do I see what happens if it’s a different group that gets the votes? It all spawns from a single decision, but ultimately spider-webs out into a giant branching path. Luckily, this game is very friendly to replaying parts with the ability skip or fast forward dialog that has already been seen. All of which can be done within a menu. It’s very user friendly.
I’m deliberately being vague with the story because the entire experience relies on the story elements and revelations, and to spoil anything would make this review useless. It’s nice to see some familiar faces making a return, and while the story seems like something out of Saw, it most certainly has a higher meaning, and if you have played the first two games, you will know what I mean by that. Not everything is always as it seems.
Zero Time Dilemma is a nice bow on top of the Zero Escape trilogy, and one that I think many will enjoy if they liked the previous games. It can get a bit complicated both in puzzles and in story, but the mystery and discovery that is involved is what really brings the player back to the game. This one has it in spades. There’s a few choice decisions here and there that made me scratch my head, but those were few and far between, and never took away from the overall experience. This is a must have for fans of the series, and only if you have fully played through the first two games. When you do that, you’ll enjoy your time with Zero Time Dilemma.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.